Date: Thu, 12 Feb 1998
Re: Annette on dialectics of nature
Annette: >"Human dialectics (is) opposed to natural dialectics" (Julio) because of its new possibility to create (working/ conscious). It negates forms of "old" negativity and creates quite new. The forms of negation differ: in non-human nature, there the borders are exceeded by "consumption of conditions". (This is a principle of self-organization and evolution: each process reaches its borders/limits only by "consumption of conditions" (limit- benefit).) Humans must not wait for any "consumption of conditions". They can conscious decide to do somewhat to reach and exceed borders and limits of their life. (Of course they need some conditions - but they can create conditions itself corresponding their plans. This is a negation with a new quality by comparition with natural negations.) >
Julio: I see a non-sequitur here. Annette's reasoning shows (and I agree with that) that the specificity of human existence within nature is qualitative in character. However, I see no reason why two qualitively distinct phenomena, one built on top of the other (one resulting from the evolution of other, etc.), imply the non-existence of basic structures underlying them both, structures such as those reflected in the categories and laws of (subjective) dialectics (as, say, in Hegel's Logic).
Annette quotes Hegel to support the claim that he rejected the idea of dialectics in nature. I'd like to check the context of the reference first. As I understand it, the movement of the Idea from absolute indetermination in the Being to the absolute determination in the Notion, through the Essence represents the movement of the whole damn thing we call the world, reality, universe, everything, etc. with the traits that Alex mentioned in his contribution (organic, teleological). I must admit that Annette's quotations confuse me.
Sartre's idea that the "assertion of dialectics in inorganic nature is out-of- scientifical assumption" does not truly stop scientists from trying to assert dialectics in that realm, whether they are aware of it or not, witness Complexity. And I fail to see how the "assumption" (of course, assumptions are first induced and proved) of dialectics in nature "would reduce humans to a simple product of physical laws."
With regards to the crucial philosophical question of the objectivity of the world, the Kantian separation of the universe in-itself and the universe for- us, and the Hegelian critique of this separation, Annette and I may have a honest disagreement. I think that Annette's assertion "nature in itself doesn't exist!" is partially contested by her last sentence in the same paragraph: "we can be certain that there is really nature out there, because we are ourselves nature and interact within the nature." Partially, because the reasoning that states, "If nature is objective, then nature in-itself is graspable" is far from being obvious. By the way, not everyone (we) is sure that there is really nature out there. Some people deny it (solypsists). But that's not an issue to be voted on. That's a scientific (and philosophical) task.
Annette claims to believe that the radical critique of capitalism should jettison the labor-theory of value. But then she says, "to analyse capitalism, I use labor-theory of value." That's all I'm saying. Now, "to plan our new wishable society" we should leave that behind. In the old texts from Marx (including those old texts he wrote when he was old, I'd add), there're several arguments for this. I think so too. IMO, Marx believed that a communist society would use a diametrically oppossed mechanism to regulate the allocation of social labor to meet the needs of society. So, Annette may not disagree with me (or I may not disagree with her) on this after all.